Bringing our well-being research to communities across the country
As we launched The Good Childhood Report 2013, our new report into young people's well-being, we wanted to know a bit more about the person-to-person application of the report's findings.
Jo Marshall, Senior Coordinator of our Good Childhood Conversations, explains how the meetings and consultations that she and her team lead across the country apply findings from our new report to improve young people's lives.
Q: Can you briefly describe what a Good Childhood Conversation event is like? I understand that these used to take place in just one day but now the events involve more time?
A: You’re right, we used to hold one-off events sharing the findings of the original Good Childhood Inquiry, which came out in 2009. Those were informative but after a few years of doing this we decided that if we had the chance to provide deeper assistance to communities, we should do that. So we’re now involved in much longer processes in the local areas where we work.
In this new approach, local children and young people complete our well-being survey, asking how happy they were with key aspects of their lives, such as where they live, their school, and relationships with family and friends. Then we analyse the responses and go into schools to consult with children and young people on the findings from the survey. We do this to understand more about the important themes and how they affect well-being.
When we’ve got the results from the survey, along with quotes from young people and in-depth understanding from consultations, we write a report on our findings. We share this with teachers, councillors, community leaders and parents at public events. The goals are to help them improve areas of low well-being and celebrate areas where they are doing well.
Q: Do you see the Good Childhood Conversations as a sort of direct application of the research behind The Good Childhood Report 2013?
A: Our work builds on the national data of the Good Childhood Report and we give it a detailed local angle.
By introducing a specific local perspective on the data, we enable more effective local changes to be implemented to improve children and young people’s well-being in the areas where we work.
We’re currently working in 15 areas, varying from small towns, to city estates and whole local authority areas.
Q: Are there examples you can share of how the Good Childhood Conversations have had an influence on a local policy level?
A: As well as helping identify and raise local issues that are affecting children and young people’s well-being we want local adults to take on responsibility for implementing change.
In one local authority, we identified a problem with bullying. Since our work, there has been a renewal of their local anti-bullying group with schools working together to address the problem.
In another area, children and young people didn’t feel welcome or safe on their high street. As a result of our work, a new youth patrol has started with local young volunteers. They identify issues in the area that need addressing and improve the relationships between young people and businesses.
In one small town, a coffee shop was identified as a place that was really important for children and young people. They felt welcomed and respected and as a result of our work in the town this information was shared with the shop’s management and celebrated.
On a similar subject, on one estate the children and young people really valued their local adventure playground where they could go and play on exciting equipment in a safe environment. Local adults hadn’t realised the value placed on it by local children and are now working with them to preserve it and promote its use.
Q: So you highlighted two examples of things young people wanted to change, and two things that were working well.
A: Right - it’s important to highlight aspects of areas that young people aren’t happy with, as well as to draw attention to the things that make a positive difference in their lives.